Practice unrelated to progress on my game: I modelled and rigged a Horsea from the Pokemon series. It uses 2600 tris, 35 bones, a 512x512 texture map, and 1024x1024 normal map (not crisp enough at 512). I have it rendered here in Unreal Engine 4 with a few simple animations.
An alpha mask is used so that the belly and fin will appear less smooth than the rest of the body. There is an optional grayscale texture which has different shape masks in the RGB channels, and can be lerped in any time with a scalar value. The eyes use a separate material that has its UV coords adjusted at runtime using anim notifies.
If anyone wants the fbx or UE4 assets for whatever reason, send me a message or something - I have no qualms giving it out but don’t want to zip it up for no reason. Pokemon is copyright Nintendo and Game Freak. Thanks to them for making an inspiring universe.